Sens. John Sununu, Norm Coleman, and George Voinovich all voted for the Law of the Sea in 2004. According to sources in the Senate, all are now reconsidering their votes under heavy pressure from the likes of John Bolton, Frank Gaffney, and their most vocal black helicopter-fearing constituents. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the convention next week.
If you want to learn more about these opponents, by the way, read Elena Schor’s news analysis piece in the Guardian, published yesterday.
The Law of the Sea convention should be a no-brainer. What’s more, it should be an opportunity for moderate and old-school conservative Republicans to slam down those in their party who think that the threat of force alone can advance U.S. interests. The votes are still there to pass it on the floor, but now it is becoming a real fight.
These three senators, in particular, need to understand that there are consequences for so transparently choosing politics over principle. Men and women in the Navy and Coast Guard, shipbuilders, fishermen, and others are counting on them to do the right thing. I still think they each will — but the fact that they are even on the fence speaks to how deeply misinformation about the treaty is taking hold.
It’s time for progressives to stand up. We’ve complied with the treaty’s rules since President Reagan insisted that we do so 25 years ago. Joining entails zero sacrifice.
At some point, we’ll actually care about working internationally that entails some measure of give-and-take, be it on climate change, nuclear diplomacy, or something else. If we let John Bolton and Frank Gaffney dictate the Senate’s foreign policy on this one, we won’t be able to stop them on the next one.
Yes, this is a rant, but I’m not apologizing. Call senators now.
— Scott Paul
Update: Matt Stoller and Taylor Marsh weigh in.